TO THE EDITOR:
With each announcement of another battery, hybrid or autonomous vehicle and the associated billions in investment, I wonder:
- Does anyone recall the failed zero-emission vehicle mandates of the 1990s? California mandated 2 percent ZEV by 1998 and 10 percent by 2003. Mandates that are not economically self-sustaining fail; it is only a question of when.
- Is anyone listening to the feedback that customers don’t want autonomous vehicles, don’t trust the technology and don’t want the added cost and content? Given how reliable our computers, Internet and phones are, who would?
- KPMG found that a majority of automotive executives surveyed said, “BEVs will fail, but we are doing them anyway.” Where is the shareholder revolt? We’ve seen decades of capital investments applied to hybridization, with poor results. Toyota’s Prius seemed a remarkable success, but sales have dropped in the last five years. Meanwhile, the automakers that have tried to follow Toyota have failed. There isn’t another hybrid model that sold in volume or turned a profit. Not even close.
We should develop technologies that are effective, economic and practical, and regulations that dictate results, not how to achieve them. While current battery and hybrid technology is technically exciting, the market has spoken. We can look to Hong Kong and local U.S. markets to see what happens without government incentives. That will spread in the U.S. — we cannot incentivize our way to scale.
DAVID JOHNSON, President and CEO, Achates Power, San Diego. Achates Power develops opposed-piston engines for ultraclean, ultraefficient and cost-effective transportation.